The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has selected NIRAS to manage the implementation of the Accelerated Growth of Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Zambia programme, which will utilize funding and capacity development to stimulate economic development in Zambia and foster trade cooperation between Zambia and Finland.
NIRAS has recently been awarded a tender to manage the implementation of the Accelerated Growth of Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Zambia Programme (AGSZ). Funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, the programme is set to start in September 2018 and aims to accelerate the growth of Zambian small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and make them more competitive.
AGSZ will begin with a 12-month inception phase, followed by a possible three-year extension if the inception phase goes well. The extension seems likely given NIRAS’s experience with similar projects elsewhere in the world, such as the Vietnam–Finland Innovation Partnership Programme (IPP) and the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS), which runs in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and also Zambia. In addition to this, the technical assistance team that has been chosen for AGSZ consists of experts highly experienced in their fields and with expertise from the region. They will maintain a local presence in Zambia for the duration of the programme and work with strong, committed local partners such as Kudu Consulting, Demola, VTT, and Savonia.
During the inception phase, the TA team will design a two-pronged, multi-stakeholder process. AGSZ will tie funding with capacity development by offering access to finance and business development training and services, while fostering innovation and collaboration between various sector stakeholders. The programme will bring together private businesses, government, academia, financial institutions, funders, donors, civil society organisations, and potential trading partners worldwide.
The proposal combines (1) an experienced and complementary team, (2) a multi-stakeholder approach, (3) dedicated and committed partners, (4) a results-oriented work plan, and (5) strong technical backstopping and quality assurance with local presence.
Emphasis is placed on fostering trade between Zambia and Finland, and as such, the project will concentrate on sectors where there is an interest in business collaboration between these two countries, such as construction, energy, the mining value chain, and agribusiness – with a focus on food processing.
Taking such a multi-stage approach to business development ensures that the enterprises selected for funding and development will grow to make an impact on not only Zambia, but worldwide in the long term, even after the programme comes to an end.